New York Islanders Regaining Their Confidence Through 4-0-2 Stretch
By Christian Arnold
NHLHS New York Islanders Correspondent
Uniondale, NY – The Islanders 3-2 overtime loss to the Chicago Blackhawks on Thursday night was a tough loss to swallow for fans and players of the Long Island based organization. But the Islanders ability to come back from a 2-0 deficit and take one of the best teams in the NHL to the brink speaks to how quickly the Islanders have turned their season around from just two ago.
In their last six games the Islanders have gone 4-0-2 and secured 10 out of a possible 12 points. The recent hot streak has propelled them back into the playoff hunt; they are six points out of eighth place in the eastern conference.
In prior weeks the Islanders had seemed lifeless, being shutout in back to back games. Even when they had played well they did not have the confidence level to stay in a game should the other team take an early lead or stage a comeback. There was chatter about a lack of identity and fears that a repeat of last season’s early collapse was immanent.
Now the outlook is much more hopeful. The Islanders have played, and earned points, against some of the leagues best teams. They’ve played well in the third period, something that had been a shortfall several weeks back, and are getting production from guys like Josh Bailey and Kyle Okposo, who’ve struggled earlier in the year.
“I think we came along way since three weeks ago,” PA Parenteu said Thursday night. “Three weeks, a month ago, we didn’t have the confidence to comeback like that. We would have got scored on and get down on our selves. Right now we’re not doing that, we’re sticking with the plan, we’re working even harder when we’re down and I think that’s the key to success.”
According to Parenteau the team held several meetings to try and figure out what the problem was.
“We got together,” he added. “We got some good veterans, we got some good young players too and everyone got involved. We had to realize how good we were. We hit this rough patch again, but hopefully it wasn’t as big as last year and now we’re in the hunt. It’s fun and hopefully we can keep it going.”
Islanders assistant captain Steve Staios notices a general improvement in the teams work ethic.
“I think we had to learn how hard we had to work to win in this league,” Staios said after the 3-2 overtime loss to Chicago. “We feel like we have a template of how we need to play to be successful and then we just have to put the effort in. We feel like if we do that on most nights we’re gunna win. We got a confident group that way and it’s showed.”
He later added, “Work ethic, forwards are back pressuring hard, Dmen are getting more active, and we’ve been quick and physical on pucks in our own zone. It’s a number of things, but really bottom line is we’re outworking teams right now.”
Head coach Jack Capuano is happy with the way his players are performing. After the game on Thursday he told reporters that his team showed that they could play with good hockey teams. He also acknowledged that his team may have not been able to compete like the way they are now.
“Mentally and emotionally the way that the bench was at the start of the year possible,” Capuano responded when asked if Thursday’s game was one the Isles would have lost earlier in the year. “But right now our guys are resilient. They’re showing a lot of character…we’re playing with an attitude, we’re playing with an edge, we’re playing with a little bit of a swagger and that’s what we need to do.”
Parenteau feels the team’s renewed confidence will carry them a long way.
“We weren’t a confident group three weeks ago and now we found this confidence,” He said. “I feel like when we had that nice run after Christmas last year, after the all-star break, I feel the same way right now in the locker room. It’s good and it’s looking bright for the future.”